After emailing a nameless press contact for Parler, the last thing I expected was to get a flattering reply from George Farmer, the CEO himself. “I’m a Spectator subscriber, nice to e-meet,” he said.
Farmer joined the right-wing social media app Parler in March 2021 as operating chief, and was promoted that May to CEO. “My goal is to provide the platform for the disenfranchised and the voiceless who feel that the mainstream has cut them out,” Farmer told the Financial Times at the time. “It is almost like we are an ‘anti’-company.”
Just over one year...

After emailing a nameless press contact for Parler, the last thing I expected was to get a flattering reply from George Farmer, the CEO himself. “I’m a Spectator subscriber, nice to e-meet,” he said.

Farmer joined the right-wing social media app Parler in March 2021 as operating chief, and was promoted that May to CEO. “My goal is to provide the platform for the disenfranchised and the voiceless who feel that the mainstream has cut them out,” Farmer told the Financial Times at the time. “It is almost like we are an ‘anti’-company.”

Just over one year on, and that “anti”-company has been acquired by rapper and businessman Kanye West. After a string of recent controversies, Kanye and Parler are under the spotlight.

As for how the deal came about, Farmer, who is married to West’s friend Candace Owens, said that Parler was interested in trying to get Kanye on the platform as a user, but was certainly not looking to sell the platform to him. “Obviously, the discussion changed when he got his profile, it became a question of him wanting to own a platform. That’s a far more compelling story than simply being an account,” he told me.

Compelling is one way to think about it. But some aren’t buying what Farmer describes as simply “opportunistic.” Political commentator and YouTuber Dave Rubin, who recently sold his “alternative” social media site Locals, said: “Well now we know why Kanye was intentionally trying to get himself banned from Twitter last week. People think it’s all a combo of creative genius and mental health, but it’s actually quite calculating and intentional.”

The de-platforming of Kanye seemed to be the main driver for the deal. In the past few days, the rapper has been taken off social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter after his recent antisemitic outbursts, including his tweet claiming he would go “death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE,” and his latest declaration that the primary cause of George Floyd’s death was fentanyl abuse, and that police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee “wasn’t even on his neck like that.”

When pondering if freedom of speech could go too far, Farmer offered what he called a “more philosophical perspective” on the matter. He said that this was the most common question he had been asked during his time as CEO, and broke into a romantic, if not a little rehearsed soliloquy. “Who’s making the decision about what speech is acceptable and what isn’t? Ultimately, if you’re saying that people can and can’t say things, somebody at some point is having to make a subjective call on what speech is allowed and what speech is not.” He added that somebody is having to sit in the “seat of power” and decide what is right and what is wrong. “We all have that seat as social media companies — and we draw the line as far to one side as possible.”

As for the purchase price of his company, it seems that Farmer would be more inclined to tell you his social security number or favorite sex position. After an ex-employee suggested to me that the figure was in the region of $60 million, Farmer claimed that the number was “wrong — and quite a way off being right.” Farmer did concede that “the deal was purposely very rapid,” decided as late as possible to “prevent leakage.”

He added that he’d been watching Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover from a distance, “with interest.” He described that buyout as “tortuous,” and he compared Elon and Twitter to a “whirlwind romance that was and then wasn’t and now back is again.” There was, of course, a recognition that Musk is now technically a competitor. In true English backhandedness, he ended the topic, with “I certainly look forward to watching him try and resurrect the platform, but I’m not quite sure what their vision is.”

As for the deal with Kanye, Farmer wasn’t loosening his lips. The Parler press release mentioned that the deal will include “ongoing technical support” from the company, whose founding investors include Rebekah Mercer, the conservative billionaire whose family has poured money into Steve Bannon’s documentaries, Cambridge Analytica and a number of think tanks and PACs. The announcement of the deal prompted the tantalizing mental image of a face-to-face business meeting between the no-nonsense businesswoman who bankrolled Breitbart and the “Fade” rapper. Unfortunately, Farmer refused to be drawn on my efforts to confirm such a meeting had taken place.

He did offer comment on another female billionaire though. “Will Kim K be allowed on Parler?” I asked.

“Of course she would be. Free speech for all.”